Monday, 16 November 2009


My mum had a brilliant collection of books when she was a child, many of which I also enjoyed. This particular one was probably acquired in the same kind of spirit that my Communist-supporting grandparents bought their Lada and East-German radios (which all groaned on to outlive their owners).

There was, however, something that my mum always found off-putting about this book, which at the time she couldn't articulate. Now she thinks it was probably the very Russian toughness of the drawings, and moral tone of the tales inside. And Uncle Joe giving the kids a ride on his fun tank.

A little boy plays with his ball so much, it's goodbye...

This is an example from a beautiful series of lithographs depicting valiant fishermen who "toil that want and hunger may keep away from you and me."

A pesky fly starts life on the river, but soon ends up swatted by a cow:
"It serves you right, fly: Don't annoy people and don't annoy animals. We're fed up with you", the story ends.
Finally, a montage of stills from the film Land of Toys teaches kids to respect all as equals...

The last thing I noticed was her name inscribed on the end-paper... surely the scribblings of a Soviet-inspired child...


J Catlow-Shea said...

oh my - i am in love with the pesky fly image. the color is just - wow - takes my breath away.

i inherited some of my pop's children's books when my nana died and i still go back to them (though some are in rough shape now) just for the beauty and simplicity of the drawings. none were children's propaganda least overtly.

see you soon! xo

Stevie said...

These are fantastic - I especially like the cabbage-harvesting one, and the seascape with the fishermen.